Daily Video

June 5, 2009

American Muslims React to Obama’s Speech

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer talked with a group of American Muslims at their mosque in Maryland to get their reactions to President Obama’s Thursday address to the global Islamic community in Cairo, Egypt.

Tens of millions of people were able to watch the president’s speech on television and online yesterday in which he called for “a new beginning” to the relationship between the United States and the Islamic world.

President Obama touched on major issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, womens rights and democracy. He also highlighted the need for mutual understanding and respect between the world’s major religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

But participant Arshad Qureshi noted that the president did not mention any specific policy initiatives.

“Words have to be followed by actions and by positive effort to make that possible. It remains to be seen how much real action will emerge from these beautiful words which were spoken,” she said.

Quotes

“It’s very refreshing to finally have the president of the United States acknowledge the contributions of Muslims and the common values that we share with the other religions. And I think he focused on the very important points that Muslims care about and the whole world should actually care about.” – Mona Ayad

“The majority of the people in the world like the America. The conflict is with the American policy. And what President Obama has laid down is a different path to that policy, and that’s what you may have seen the reactions from the different part of the world.” – Akhtar Zubairi

“We in the Muslim world have to also examine our own selves to see what weaknesses we have, what strengths we have, and how to best deploy towards achieving the common objectives which President Obama has enunciated.” – Arshad Qureshi

Warm Up Questions

1. Name some of Islam’s basic beliefs.

2. Name some countries that have majority Islamic communities.

Discussion Questions

1. What is the “Muslim world?” Why can this be a confusing or limiting term?

2. Do you think that the president’s speech has the power to change perceptions of America across the Islamic world? Or do you think specific actions are more important? Why or why not?

3. Why is President Obama reaching out to Muslims? What are the pros and cons of his approach? Do you think it will mean any real changes in the way Muslims perceive the United States?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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